November 20, 2020

Corporate Venturing - The role of the Venture Architect

A Brief history

Traditionally, R&D labs used to take up a central role in innovation, more specifically product innovation. The R&D lab was responsible for deep exploration of technology, followed by concept developing and if successful the company brought the new product into production and launched it in the market. This end-to-end process would typically take years, costs a lot of money and did not always deliver the expected results. Time for a change.

The past 2 decades we have seen start-ups create entire new businesses from scratch and shaking up traditional industries. Startups that went from idea to million dollar valuation in a fraction of the time it used to take to build a business. This stands in sharp contrast with the way innovation is done at traditional companies. Companies understood quickly they needed to catch up and build entire new structures that could help them react faster and become more agile.

Enter: venture building - the activity of building and developing entire new business models within existing businesses. Also known as Venture Builder, the Venture Architect is yet another role we expect to see popping up more in the corporate innovation landscape in the years to come. Let's look into what defines a venture builder and the main responsibilities this person holds.

Roles and responsibilities

A Venture Architect is responsible for defining the field of opportunity and establishing the scope for a new venture. Main area of focus is to design and test the operational and commercial aspects of the business. In other words, it’s his role to translate the concept into the operational roadmap, define roles, responsibilities and activities. We can summarize the venture architect’s main responsibilities as following:

  • Scan and create: Explore and test new business ideas and opportunities
  • Design and execute: Define the operational and commercial structures and strategies
  • Lead and communicate: Guide the development of the venture with the team and the corporate client

Alongside these lines, the daily tasks of a venture architect can include:

  • Scan for novel business insights and turn them into attractive business concepts
  • Examine the market size and build business cases for a potential venture
  • Pitch innovative ventures to corporate boards
  • Define and execute go-to-market strategies
  • Draw and analyse customer journey maps
  • Assemble and co-drive a corporate venture team
  • Analyse customer segments and test hypotheses through rapid prototyping

This role is driven by a highly entrepreneurial mindset and knowledge of design thinking, lean startup, and agile development principles. The venture architect is also expected to possess good leadership and communication skills.

Previous experiences include high exposure to entrepreneurship such as startup, venture capital or startup accelerator roles. Experiences launching and managing large projects and businesses in corporate environments are also valued.

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